Language Blog Roundup: Amiri Baraka, words of the year, Satan’s bracelets

Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

We were saddened by the passing of poet Amiri Baraka. Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones, was a long-time activist and former poet laureate of New Jersey.

In case you missed it, the American Dialect Society picked because as their Word of the Year (WOTY). At The Week, Arika Okrent took a closer look at because and other WOTY nominees such as catfish, –shaming, and binge-watch, and at Mental Floss gave us the words of the year from other countries. Meanwhile, the OUPBlog had their own round-up up of various WOTYs.

In other language news, the Academie Francaise is asking French people to drop ASAP from their lexicons, declaring the acronym “21st-century rubbish” (psst, it’s from the 20th century, the mid-1950s to be exact). However, the Finnish are fine with English loanwords such as spammata for spam, googlata for google, and prinata for print.

A Los Angeles library is offering high school diplomas; the National Book Critics Circle finalists were announced; and the Poetry Foundation looked back at the year in plagiarism. A word in the news this week was Mipster, a Muslim hipster who is striving to “break the stereotype of the hijab as a symbol of oppression.”

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic told us about 19th century telegrapher “text speak.” Geoff Pullum argued against because as a conjunction. NPR’s Code Switch looked at the ugly and fascinating history of the word racism and the Shakespearean lineage of crib, slang for “house.”

Ben Zimmer told us where the phrase screw the pooch came from. Arika Okrent corrected some Klingon grammar; gave us 11 little-known words for family members; and discussed the listicle as literary form.

James Harbeck explained why it’s difficult to tell a Canadian accent from a Californian one, and then tested us on the proper use of myself. Lee Gale at Mind Your Language had some fun with collective nouns. Stan Carey introduced us to the awesome Indo-European Jones (“Grammar Nazis. I hate these guys”), and at Macmillan Dictionary blog, considered the amazeballness of amazeballs.

At Lingua Franca, Ilan Stevens examined the word quixotic, and Allan Metcalf got to the root of the word sophomore. At Language Log, Victor Mair celebrated the birthday of Zhou Youguang, the father of Chinese pinyin.

Barry Popik took on the term snow-trolling. Fritinancy’s words of the week were bodgery, “bungling, botched work,” and afterdrop, “a further cooling of core temperature [that] occurs after the victim is removed from the cold environment.” Fritinancy also took a look at some portmanteaus in brand names, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Word Spy spotted underbrag, “a self-deprecating comment that acts as a brag because it shows the person is confident enough to admit a failing or embarrassment”; life radius, “the distance from home or work within which a person performs most of their day-to-day activities”; and parcel mullet, “a lawn that is short and well-maintained in the front of a house, but overgrown and wild in the back.”

At Slate, Richard Hudson recounted a brief history of one of our favorite activities, diagramming sentences; Kathryn Schulz at at Vulture named the five best punctuation marks in literature; and Arrant Pedantry guided us through the pronunciation of Smaug.

This week we learned that terms like highbrow, lowbrow, and shrink came from phrenology, the study of brain shape and head reading; about the next trend in selfies, the selfeye; and the strange and fascinating story of Flowers in the Attic author, VC Andrews. We also laughed ourselves silly over the New Yorker’s parody of a recent dialect quiz (we’ll be calling rubber bands Satan’s bracelets from now on).

That’s it until next time!

(Photo: Amiri Barka via Poetry Foundation)

Language Blog Roundup: WOTY news, banished words, mooing with an accent

Happy new year, everyone, and welcome to the first Language Blog Roundup of 2014!

The biggest end-of-2013 word news is of course the words of the year. While the American Dialect Society votes on their choices this week, others have already made their selections.

At The New York Times, Grant Barrett unleashed a wordnado of words, and at The Wall Street Journal, Ben Zimmer uncorked the words that popped this year. Tim Walker at The Guardian rounded up his own choices; The Economist‘s Robert Lane Greene discussed his; and at Macmillan Dictionary blog, Stan Carey picked his own because reasons.

Misty Harris of discussed cronuts, selfies, and twerking with a variety of word experts including Ben Zimmer, Grant Barrett, Nancy Friedman, and our own Erin McKean. Meanwhile, Lake Superior State University gave us their annual “banished words” list.

Remember the Hawaiian woman with the last name considered too long for a driver’s license? Well, transport officials changed their policy and she managed to get her name on her license after all.

This week we learned about the evolution of forbidden language, the language of Indian courts, and a mysterious law that predicts that size of cities. We found out about a creepy 15th century language experiment, the right and wrong ways to spell whoa, and the latest in Twitter lingo.

The neurological word of the week was mitempfindung, the phenomenon of scratching one place on your body only to feel it somewhere else, while the selfie variation of the week was felfie, a self-portrait in front of one’s farm.

At Language Log, Victor Mair discussed the difficulty of writing sneeze, hiccup, and cough in Chinese, and South Korea’s issue with a generic Chinese word for kimchee. At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Liz Potter gave the stories behind Boxing Day and Hogmanay.

Stan Carey dished on the Scottish clishmaclaver and the gender-neutral henchpersons. Jen Doll discussed language peevers and peeving. Fritinancy picked for words of the week ephemeral, short-lived, and retcon, which is short for “retroactive continuity” and refers to “reframing past events to serve a current plot need.”

Barry Popik traced the history of economedian, economist plus comedian, and Neiman Marxism, a term similar to limousine liberalism. Word Spy spotted anti-vaxxer, “a person who does not vaccinate their children in the belief that vaccines are harmful.”

We love that the Bay to Breakers’ mascot is named Ape Hashbury; these 19 regional U.S. words; and this Abedpedia, an A-to-Z guide to Abed’s pop culture references on TV show Community. Finally, we didn’t think it was possible but this podcast of Sir Patrick Stewart mooing in different accents made us love him even more.

See you next time!

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Jelle]

Best of Language Blog Roundup 2013

Happy almost New Year! Yesterday we brought you our most popular posts of 2013. Today we’re bringing you the best of Language Blog Roundup with the our favorite language stories of the year.


The year in language began with former Senator Scott Brown’s Twitter trouble when he responded, a bit hastily, to a troller, “Bqhatevwr,” leading to, as Daily Kos put it, “mass hilarity.”

Gun control debate

The linguistics of gun control — or should that be gun safety? — featured prominently in language news this year. NPR discussed how language shapes the debate and how deeply embedded gun metaphors are in the English language.

Boston Marathon bombings

In the aftermath of the pressure cooker bombings, Ben Zimmer addressed how the word surreal was used over and over to describe the events. At Lingua Franca, Lucy Ferriss discussed the term first responder, and Jen Doll looked at how we use terms like bro bombers to “pop the balloon of terror.”


We were saddened by several passings this year, including programmer and activist Aaron Swartz; screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala; film critic Roger Ebert; journalist Michael Hastings; science fiction writer Richard Matheson; TV writer Gary David Goldberg; long-time White House correspondent Helen Thomas; crime fiction master Elmore Leonard; poet Seamus Heaney; best-selling author Tom Clancy; Cuban-American novelist Oscar Hijuelos; Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing; Young Adult author Ned Vizzini; and Michael Cronan, graphic designer, marketing executive, professional namer, and Reverb friend.

More notable passings of 2013.

Argle-bargle and Antonin Scalia

In June the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Art, “the 1996 law signed by President Clinton that defined marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of federal law.”

A dissenting voice was Justice Antonin Scalia, who described “the reasoning of the majority opinion” as “legalistic argle-bargle.” Argle-bargle, says Ben Zimmer,  is “a verbal dispute.” Arika Okrent looked at argle-bargle and the meaning of word reduplications while Slate offered a glossary of Scalia-isms.

Later, Scalia went on to say that “words have meaning [and] their meaning doesn’t change.” We hate to break it to you, Nino, but —

Changing definitions

The changing definitions of words was also a big story in 2013. In February, the Associated Press addressed same-sex unions by changing their definition of the the word marriage:

Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested.

Jen Doll told us what the definition of marriage tells us about marriage equality. Meanwhile, the definition of fiance might be changing as well.

The gender neutral pronoun

What if the subject could be either a he or she? What if you don’t know? What if it doesn’t matter? You could use the singular they (Jen Doll is against it, John E. McIntyre is for it, and OxfordWords blog remains neutral). You could make up your own pronouns like kids in Baltimore and elsewhere.

Or you could omit pronouns all together, like The New York Times in this tweet about Bradley Manning, sentenced for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, who released a statement saying, “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female.” Or you could ignore the individual’s wishes, like The New York Times again when they referred to Private Manning as “he” in an article about her announcement.

‘Literally’ in the dictionary!

Some people freaked out about the “wrong” definition of the word literally going in “the dictionary” (which dictionary, they didn’t say). However, as Ben Zimmer pointed out, this “incorrect” meaning — literally used to mean figuratively — has been in use since 1769.

So take some advice from John McIntyre, Ben Yagoda, and Tom Chivers, and literally calm down.

Cracker and the n-word

Controversy ensued when celebrity chef Paula Deen admitted to having used the n-word in the past. Kathleen Parker at The Washington Post explained why Trayvon Martin’s use of cracker to describe George Zimmerman doesn’t compare to using the n-word, while NPR recounted the secret history of the word cracker.

JK Rowling unmasked

The Harry Potter creator was revealed to be the author of the crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she had written under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. While forensic linguist Patrick Joula figured this out by using “a computer program to analyze and compare word usage,” Vulture gathered their own Potter-esque clues in the crime novel.

Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize

Short story writer Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first Canadian woman to do so and prompting accolades from fellow authors.

Except, that is, for American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis who tweeted that Munro was “an overrated writer,” prompting comedian (and Canadian) Norm MacDonald to eviscerate Ellis in a few tweets.

Jane Austen madness

With the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, 2013 was a big Jane Austen year. The Royal Mail released stamps featuring scenes from all six of Austen’s novels; a giant Mr. Darcy was erected in Hyde Park, London; Austen’s likeness is set to replace Darwin’s on the 10 pound note; and an Austen portrait was recently sold at Sotheby’s for £164,500.

The biggest Austenites may want to go this Jane Austen summer camp or the annual meeting of Jane Austen Society of North America, or JASNA for those in the know.

Great Gatsby mania

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby came out, and everyone went nuts for everything Gatsby, from book covers, to the language of jazz, to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s contributions to the English language. We at Wordnik were not immune and wrote about the language of the 1920s beyond the bee’s knees.

Choosy pronouncers choose GIF

We’ve been pronouncing it wrong all this time! At least according to Steve Wilhite, the creator of the Graphics Interchange Format, better known as the GIF. However, Stan Carey assured us we can pronounce GIF any way we want, even if Alex Trebek pronounces it like the peanut butter.

The new ‘the’

Australian restaurateur Paul Mathis proposed a new symbol to replace the cumbersome three-letter word. Arit John questioned if we really need to shorten the while Tom Chivers recounted other failed attempts at “improving” the English language.

Linguistic tropes

All types of linguistic tropes were the rage this year. Anne Curzan revealed that the slash isn’t just a punctuation mark anymore, and Stan Carey told us about the new preposition because (because language slash awesome!).

Ben Yagoda considered what he considers the most. Tiresome. Trope. Ever. Ben Crair at New Republic claimed the period to be the most pissed off of all punctuation marks. Anne Cuzan also wrote about all caps while James Harbeck gave us some pointers on how to use them correctly.

Cronuts and other food mashups

It’s part croissant, part donut, all portmanteau — what’s not to love about the cronut? But 2013’s food mashups didn’t stop there. There was the frissant, part fritter, part croissant; the Thanksgiving turdoughnut, a donut stuffed with turkey and cranberry sauce or gravy; the s’monut, a s’mores donut; and many more.

For even more on food mashups, check out this Reverb collection.

The selfie

First there was the selfie, then the funeral selfie, then a presidential funeral selfie (oh, Barry), the shelfie (our personal favorite), and the felfie. No wonder Oxford Dictionaries picked selfie as their word of the year.

[Image via Daily Kos and @tmwsiy]

Language Blog Roundup: WOTY news, ’tis, shelfies

Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

In word of the year news,’s selection for 2013 is privacy; Geoff Nunberg, like Oxford Dictionaries, is going with selfie; and Collins Dictionary has chosen geek. Curious about the origin of geek, dork, and other nerdy words? Check out this post from io9.

Meanwhile twerk is the word TIME readers most want banished from the English language, and bitcoin is the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s wordy pick of the year. And where there’s bitcoin, there are bitcoinaires, as spotted and explained by Barry Popik.

In other language news, in Norway all library books must be digitized by law; a Jane Austen portrait sold for almost 165,000 pounds; and New York Times book reviewer, Michiko Kakutani offered her 10 favorite books of the year.

This week we learned the origin of the word hipster; how to tell statements from questions in Valley Girl talk; and what the heck “the Desolation of Smaug” means. At The Atlantic Megan Garber wondered if delightful is the new cool, Deborah Fallows taught us the language of the skies, and, as reported by the CBC, we discovered that the L’Académie française decided that sexting in French is not sextos but textopornographie.

Ben Zimmer traced the history of the phrase embrace the suck, recently uttered by Nancy Pelosi. Arika Okrent gave us eight beautiful snow scenes from literature and 11 proclitic words such as ‘tis, ‘twas, and ‘twere. Grammar Girl explained why we call people redheads and not orangeheads.

From the OUP blog  is a post on the different shades of gray and grey, and from OxfordWords Blog, the lasting impression of fictional titles. From Barry Popik we got the story behind the phrase Wolf of Wall Street.

In words of the week, Fritinancy selected scrumpy, “rough cider made from dried or withered apples,” and affluenza, “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

The Word Spy spotted attention theft, “the intrusion on a person’s attention by unwanted and unauthorized text, sounds, or images”; participatory Panopticon, “an all-encompassing system of surveillance created by the people being watched through their use of mobile technologies and trackable transactions”; and gift creep, “a gradual increase in the value or extent of one‘s gift-giving.”

The Dialect Blog looked at the changing meaning of nauseous; the “sickness” accent; and young New Zealand English.

Peter Leonard wrote a tender obituary for his father, Elmore. The New Yorker told us about David Foster Wallace’s favorite grammarian and recapped this year’s literary feuds. Maria Popova told us about authors’ sleeping habits versus their literary productivity.

This week we also learned about the origins of the word sheeple and how to talk like a real-life line cook. We loved this round-up of (some NSFW) band names, these Japanese love hotel names that could be band names, and these 20 famous authors as dolls (Ernest Hemingway action figure? yes please!).

Tired of selfies? You’re in luck: now there’s the shelfie.

Wordnik shelfie

Don’t feel like working? You’re in luck again. Check out this OED birthday word generator and find out which words originated the year of your birth.

That’s it for this week! Until next time, happy holidays!

(Photo: CC BY 2.0 by LuChOeDu]

Language Blog Roundup: Nelson Mandela, all caps, dalek

Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

We were saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela. Mandela was a leader in the anti-apartheid movement and served 27 years in prison for “sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.” Upon his release he sought to abolish apartheid, becoming in 1994 South Africa’s first black president. Mandela was 95.

In language news, we learned about millions of people in China who resist speaking Mandarin, preferring their native dialects. U.S. military slang expanded dramatically during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and Code Switch at NPR told us why Chaucer said ax instead of ask, and why some still do.

Teddy Wayne at The New York Times considered the death of the catchphrase. Mark Bowden at The Atlantic praised fancy words and BBC News wants to bring back some fun old words. Meanwhile, Android has a bizarre list of banned words.

In case you didn’t know, it’s almost Christmas, and Arika Okrent rounded up six grammar points to watch out for Christmas songs. Don’t know what to get the bibliophile in your life? Get some ideas from this roundup of Best Books articles from Reverb. Still confused? Try NPR’s Book Concierge, an interactive guide to 2013’s best reads.

Did you know the period is pissed? Yes. It. Is. And using all caps isn’t just about yelling anymore, according to Anne Curzan at Lingua Franca, ALTHOUGH IT SEEMS LIKE IT, DOESN’T IT? At The Week, James Harbeck offered a guide on how to use all caps in a useful and not annoying way.

James also gave us a simple way to remember how to use you and I versus you and me. Constance Hale taught us the difference between careen, career, and carom.

OxfordWords blog listed eight words we need to know for The Hunger Games. Ben Zimmer celebrated the Doctor Who 50th anniversary with the story behind the word dalek.

io9 recounted the experiment that led to the concept of thinking outside of the box. Mental Floss listed 12 words that originated in the funny pages. Barry Popik traced the history of the word gastrocrat, an influential person in the food world, and the chilly phrase colder than a witch’s tit.

Robert Lane Greene discussed the decrease in formality in western languages. Arika Okrent rounded up 15 words etymologically inspired by animals and told us how long crazy German words come to be.

At Lingua Franca, Geoffrey Pullum looked at whether and when, and Anne Curzan considered the freshperson problem. At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Michael Rundell discussed the language of conspiracy and Stan Carey peered into the grumbling heart of the curmudgeon.

On his own blog, Stan examined the colloquial use in Ireland of the word cat to mean “awful, unpleasant, rough, terrible, bad, calamitous, or very disappointing.”

Word Spy spotted street as a verb meaning “to release a dangerous or helpless mentally ill person from a hospital because there are no private or public psychiatric beds available,” and perching, “while in a car in a crowded parking lot, waiting for, and possibly following, a person who is going to exit the lot and thus free up a parking spot.”

Fritinancy’s words of the week included geofencing, “a technology that defines a virtual boundary around a real-world geographical area,” and bitcoin, “a decentralized, open-source, peer-to-peer virtual currency.” Fritinancy also took a look at the annual overuse of ‘tis the season, and a lulu of a naming trend.

In other naming news, the Boston Globe discussed the connection between popular dogs’ names, pop culture, and owners’ tastes. Meanwhile, TV nerds are naming their babies after characters from Breaking Bad and Homeland.

This week we learned about the slang of hobos, English con men, Parisian prostitutes, and German bandits. We loved these beautiful bookshelves of questionable functionality and these posters that turn authors’ words into art. We’ll try to remember these life lessons from Joan Didion, whose birthday it was yesterday.

That’s it for this week!

[Photo via Wikipedia, by Paul Weinberg]

Language Blog Roundup: Doris Lessing, selfie, because

We were saddened by the passing of Doris Lessing. Don’t miss Margaret Atwood’s moving homage to the Nobel prize-winning author.

It’s closing in on the end of the year, which means it’s word of the year time. The Oxford English Dictionary’s selection was selfie. However, Katherine Connor Martin at OUPBlog wasn’t satisfied with just one WOTY and selected 12, one for each month — with graphs!

In other language news, a judge ruled in favor of Google, agreeing “that its scanning of more than 20 million books for an electronic database, and making ‘snippets’ of text available for online searches, constituted fair use.” Publishers Weekly banned a few uniquely compelling and poignant words. The NPR Code Switch blog discussed the origins of the term hoodlum.

Hunger Games fans! Catching Fire is out today, and Slate has a textual analysis and comparison of Hunger Games, Twilight, and the Harry Potter series.

This week we learned how to speak Death Metal English, how we’ll swear in the future, and about 12 mistakes almost everyone makes when writing about grammar mistakes.

We also found out about a universally understood syllable (huh? you heard us). Meanwhile, James Harbeck explained why pain is expressed differently in different languages.

Robert Lane Greene explored the impossibility of being literal and assured us that technology changing language is okay and that “only dead languages never change.”

Ben Zimmer discussed grand bargains, Goldilocks as metaphor, and adjective-ass construction. Arika Okrent told us why defining the is so difficult, and gave us 11 teeny units of measurement, three reasons for syllabically ambiguous words, and 26 of Noah Webster’s spellings that didn’t catch on.

At Language Log, Victor Mair offered some Pekingnese put-downs and Mark Liberman took on Okie uptalk. At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Liz Potter related the story behind the phrase Bob’s your uncle, and Stan Carey wondered if banning slang was counterproductive.

On his own blog, Stan gave us some hair-raising etymology and took a look at because as a preposition (because grammar), which inspired Megan Garber at The Atlantic to take a further look (because awesome).

Fritinancy’s words of the week were petrel, “the English translation of the Chinese word Haiyan, which is the international name of the ‘supertyphoon‘ that has ravaged large areas of the Philippines in recent days,” and Friendsgiving, “a Thanksgiving meal shared with friends rather than family.”

Word Spy spotted pistachio principle, “the tendency to eat less food given certain visual cues, particularly evidence of the amount of food consumed, such as pistachio shells”; vanity height, “unusable space at the top of a tall building created by a spire or similar extension added only to give the building extra height”; and kid credentialing, “having a child participate in activities, programs, and experiences that will look good on the child’s future college application.”

Billy Baker at The Boston Globe compared the accents of Boston mayors, old and new. The Dialect Blog examined Americans imitating Canadians.

Mental Floss gave us haters and lovers, and old-timey sexting acronyms. The Modern Farmer explained why being the black sheep is a bad thing and other ag-idioms. Pacific Standard offered a peek inside the world of competitive laughing, where laughaletes compete in categories such as Diabolical Laugh, the snort laugh, and the Alabama Knee-Slapper.

We agree these 10 terms will help us appreciate fantasy literature, were surprised cheese lexicon could be headache-inducing, and wondered if these new terms for female body parts were necessary.

We love this map showing San Francisco’s literary history and this one that reveals who is saying the F-bomb where. We adore all of these pop culture librarians, but Giles will always be our favorite.

That’s it for this week! Until next time, happy Friendsgiving!

[Photo via NPR]

Language Blog Roundup: dude, Victorian slang, shaming and mansplaining

Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

We were saddened by the passings last week of music legend Lou Reed and Marcia Wallace, an actress most known as the voice of The Simpsons’ Mrs. Krabappel.

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee is suing a local museum in the town that inspired her famous book for “exploiting” her fame “without offering compensation.” In light of plagiarism accusations against junior U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Rick Webb at Medium offered a proposed taxonomy of plagiarism.

To kick off Movember, OxfordWords Blog offered a guide to words for moustaches. Remember remember the fifth of November? Here’s how Guy Fawkes inadvertently created the word guy.

Scientists at Microsoft might have figured out how to “enable the hearing to understand sign language—and vice versa.” The editors of DARE, the Dictionary of American Regional English, are going back into the field to map “tens of thousands of folk terms from sea to shining sea.” Meanwhile, a non-profit group in Washington, D.C. wants to build a science fiction museum.

Michael Rosen at The Guardian told us why H is the most contentious letter of the alphabet. We learned about the strange rise of Denglisch, or English-German hybrid words; the racial history of the “grandfather clause”; what’s so Chinese about a Chinese fire drill; and about the Slants, an Asian-American band that’s trying to trademark its name.

The Atlantic gave us 20 years of dumb new words while The New Statesman traced the 500-year history of trying to make irony more easily understood. In the land of dude, Allan Metcalf examined the origins of the word dude and The Atlantic recounted a brief history of its usage.

Mark Peters did some shaming shaming and mansplained mansplain. Katy Steinmetz dropped hyphens like they were hot.

Arika Okrent rounded up eight things she learned from being corrected by Mental Floss readers; explained why ghost is spelled with an h; and listed 11 suffixes that give us new, often terrible words. James Harbeck gave us a brief history of African click words and told us about the word zarf.

Ben Zimmer explained how sugarcoating moved from the pharmacy to the White House, revealed the hidden history of the word glitch, and told us about Schwa Fire, “a digital publication that will marry language geekery with long-form journalism.”

At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Michael Rundell told us the stories behind the words iconoclast and loophole, while Stan Carey discussed apharesis,“the dropping of an initial sound or sounds of a word.” At Lingua Franca, Anne Curzan related sports in everyday speech and Allan Metcalf considered the rise of hey over hi.

Fritinancy examined the use of urban in brand names and for word of the week selected aril, “a fleshy, usually brightly colored cover of a seed.”

Word Spy spotted Copenhagenization, “the process of making a city safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians,” presumably like Copenhagen, Denmark; nasty effect, “the polarization of opinions on a particular topic caused by exposure to uncivil commentary about that topic”; and glowing rectangle, “a mocking or satiric reference to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer screen.”

Dialect Blog delved into the Boston pronunciation of the word brother as well as the accents of transplants, in this case that of the Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi.

From the Poetry Foundation, we learned about the rivalry between literary siblings. Bigstock Blog told us how French toast, Swedish meatballs, and English muffins got their names.

We loved these 19th-century criminal slang terms and these delightful idioms from Victorian times. We drooled over this list of 15 famous authors and their fashion label counterparts (one Edith Wharton please!).

For favorite sites of the week, it’s a 21-way tie between Zombie Ipsum and these 20 literary Tumblrs.

As for this cool bookish place called Bookworm Gardens: we want to go to there.

That’s it for this week!

[Photo: Via WIRED]